HAMSTRINGS EXERCISE NO. 1
LYING LEG CURL STATS: 6–7 sets (2–3 warmups and 4 working sets), 10–15 reps plus partials and dropsets
■ Lewis’ Take: “I change other exercises, but I’ll do the lying leg curl to start of every single time. It’s equivalent to me doing leg extensions every quad workout.”
■ Do It Right: Lewis lies on the machine after adjusting it so the footpads hit just behind his Achilles. He grasps the handles for stability, then curls both hamstrings powerfully, bringing his ankles to his glutes before returning to the start. Like with the leg extension, he doesn’t allow the weight stack to touch down between reps. He pyramids the weight up on each successive set.
■ Intensity Tip: “With lying leg extensions, you can be as sadistic as you want,” Lewis says ominously. “For me, the first set could be to failure at 15 reps, then slip the pin to a heavier weight and do butterfly kicks, moving just an inch or so for 50 reps, keeping the tension on from the back of my knee to the bottom of my hamstring. The next set, I’ll go for failure at 15 regular reps again, then drop the weight in half and fail again, then drop the weight slightly one more time and go to failure one more time. For the last set, I’ll do maybe 10 conventional reps, using the whole stack or close to it, then drop the weight in half and do another 10, then drop one more time and go for 10. For those final 10, I may need to use rest-pause, basically finishing with four powerful singles. After that, I’ll raise the weight to half to three-quarters of the stack and do 50 butterflies to finish of .”
HAMSTRINGS EXERCISE NO. 2
BODY-WEIGHT HAMSTRING CURL “KAMIKAZES” STATS: 3 sets, all to failure
■ Lewis’ Take: ”This one is very difficult. One of the only bodybuilders I’ve seen doing this was Alex Fedorov. Him being from Russia, me from Wales, it makes sense because we didn’t have access to a lot of equipment over there. We had to make do, and create a lot of exercises out of the few machines we had.“
■ Do It Right: Facing away from the weight stack of a pulldown machine, Lewis clambers on so his shins are on the seat and his ankles are secured under the knee pads. Keeping his body straight from knees to head and folding his arms over his chest, he fully engages his hamstrings to support his body weight as he slowly leans forward. He’ll go down as far as he can before fl exing both hams strongly to reverse the downward motion and bring him back upright. As he fatigues, he’ll put his hands in front of him for safety, and to sometimes give himself a push of the floor.
■ Intensity Tip: “This exercise is intense enough without any tricks,” Lewis says. However, he does suggest striving to better your personal best over the weeks and months. “I remember clocking out once at 58 reps years ago I haven’t beaten that again. Now I can maybe get 30 or so.”
HAMSTRINGS EXERCISE NO. 3
ONE-LEG HAMSTRING CURL STATS: 3 sets, 8–10 plus 3–4 forced reps
■ Lewis’ Take: “At this point, my hamstrings are fried, but I’ll always do three more sets of something, like the one-leg curl.”
■ Do It Right: Settling into the apparatus, Lewis places his working leg so that the pad hits between his ankle and the bottom of his calf. Holding the handles with both hands to stabilize himself, he powerfully flexes his hamstrings to lif the weight, bringing it as high as he can go. “On this exercise, I’ll use a pretty light weight for most sets,” he says. “I’m concentrating on squeezing the hamstring. I envision myself in a back lat spread onstage, seeing the hamstring ‘pop out’ for the judges.”
■ Intensity Tip: Instead of simply doing conventional sets, Lewis will vary the range of motion. “During a rep, I’ll hold it at three-quarters of the way up for a count, then continue to 90 degrees and hold it again. Then I’ll lower it all the way back down. On the last one or two sets, after failure I’ll do three or four forced reps if I have a partner.”